Television celebrity and dog trainer Cesar Millan brings his tour to El Paso on Saturday at the Abraham Chavez Theatre. (COURTESY PHOTO)
"Life is simple. We make it complicated."
That is the message that television celebrity and "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan truly believes and has lived by, even while growing up amid humble beginnings in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico.
The now famous dog trainer and behaviorist has always had a love for dogs, but he didn't always have the fame and fortune he does today. As a teen in Mexico, Millan set his sights on the American dream with pure determination and courage. He would chase it down, work hard for it and make it happen. For Millan, it was a simple choice — he would set his own path to destiny.
"It started when I was 13 and decided that I wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world, but I knew that in order to do that I would have to go to America, because everything there was the best," said Millan, who worked with animals on his grandfather's Sinaloa farm and was nicknamed "El Perrero" ("The Dog Boy"), because of his natural way with dogs. "I crossed the border illegally when I was 21, was homeless for a while, and then got a job as a dog groomer."
Reaching California, Millan, who at the time only spoke Spanish, worked hard, taking on several jobs, including walking dogs, all on his mission to support his dream, his goals. He finally saved up enough money to start his first dog training business, the Pacific Point Canine Academy in Los Angeles in 2002. It was there that he was supported (and discovered) by Hollywood.
"I wasn't actually discovered walking dogs, I was rehabilitating difficult dogs, and I only advertised by word of mouth," Millan said. "This eventually led to (actors) Will and Jada Pinkett Smith becoming clients and Jada paying for a year of English tutoring for me. After I'd opened my original Dog Psychology Center in South Central LA, the LA Times did a story about me, and that's when Hollywood producers decided, 'Hey, this guy would make an interesting TV show.' "
Interesting is an understatement. The original television series, "Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan," placed him smack in the middle of an international spotlight as he captivated audiences around the world. The show was broadcast in more than 80 countries worldwide from 2004 to 2012. His new series, "Cesar 911," is having the same effect, already capturing major audiences. Millan has also written three books, including the popular "Cesar's Way," that have all become New York Times' best sellers, selling 2 million copies in the United States, and available in 14 other countries. In conjunction with IMG, Millan then introduced a monthly magazine, also titled "Cesar's Way." At that time, the Wall Street Journal reported that half of American consumers recognized Millan.
Now, on his "Cesar Millan Live!" Tour, Millan shares his story and his secrets of happier, healthier relationships between humans and their canine companions in a live show, which is set to take over the Abraham Chavez Theatre on Saturday. Joined by his famous four-legged companions, Millan will share his philosophies and methods, giving live demonstrations, as well as taking part in a question-and-answer session with the audience.
"In my home pack, I have five dogs: my pit bull Junior, Chihuahuas Coco and Taco, Yorkie Alfie and Pomeranian Benson," Millan said. "My home pack travels with me or, if not all of them, at least Junior, who also takes part in the show. The rest of the dogs in the show all come from the community where I'm appearing.
"What they can expect in the show is that I cover my techniques, especially the fundamentals, in a lot more detail than on TV, and I deal with behaviors like separation anxiety and aggression, which is very misunderstood. I teach people how to respect species and let a dog be a dog, and I help people understand how their energy affects the human-dog dynamic. It will be a lot of fun, and people tell me I'm very funny on stage."
It's always fun, he says. And now, at age 44, Millan, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009, is enjoying the fame and fortune he worked so hard to attain. But, a day never goes by that he doesn't look back to his humble start, at that 13-year-old boy who chased and achieved his dream to become "the best dog trainer in the world."
"I have always loved all animals and I still do, but I had a special connection with dogs almost from the beginning," Millan said. "Even without the success and fame, I know that I would still be working with dogs."
Life truly is simple.
Margaret Gallardo is entertainment editor for the El Paso Times. She may be reached at 546-6166.
What: Cesar Millan Live!
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Abraham Chavez Theatre, Downtown.
Tickets: $32.50, $42.50, $55, $85, plus fees. Available at the Plaza Theatre Box Office, Downtown; Ticketmaster outlets; online at ticketmaster.com; or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Information: 231-1100; elpasolive.com.